Ten days ago I competed in and finished my FIRST Olympic Distance Triathlon. It was by far the hardest thing that I've EVER done. Race-wise, that is. I am proud to say that I was not the last person to cross the finish line, but it was pretty damn close!
First, some background information. My husband, Charles, and I decided almost a year ago to compete in this race and make it a southeastern trip. We were going to do a couple days in Nashville, a couple days in Atlanta, and a couple days in Birmingham. Once my siblings got wind of it all, the event turned more into a family reunion, with all my siblings driving in from Kansas, Birmingham, and Pennsylvania. With ALL kids in tow!
Originally we were going to fly from LAX to Nashville and check the bikes as luggage - but the more we talked about it, the more we thought, "what would happen if one of the bikes didn't make it?" And that hubby of mine was jonesing for a rode trip. So air fare was cancelled in favor of driving from Pasadena to Nashville. And boy, did we have a good time! We made sure to photograph every entry into every state (SIX in all) as well as other scenery along the way. On our first day we made it all the way to Tucemcari, New Mexico. Friday we checked into our Nashville hotel around 11pm.
Saturday was for packet pick up and seeing my siblings. WOW - was I amazed to see how BIG my damn nieces and nephews are! I couldn't believe my eyes. Charles and I had a nephew we'd never met, Benjamin, and he's still pretty young so I doubt he will remember this gathering. But he is a little prince and adorable as hell. The others we'd spent time with before, especially my sister Jenny's kids, and almost all of them are teenagers now. Semi-awkward, but lots of fun. All the kids look great and are super active and outgoing.
|Me and My Baby Sister Annie, with "Bubba" (Mike) in the background!|
|The next generation of Mayer Kids!|
|Jenny's kids, Nicky-Becca-Joe! My first ever nieces and nephew!|
|Ah, yes, the Spawn of Tom and Linda: Mike, Leeanne, Jennifer, Kristin|
After the family breakfast, Charles and I drove the bike course and went to pick up our race packets. The bike course didn't look at that bad driving it, but I was well aware of the fact that there were going to be rolling hills. We were able to check out the river when we arrived at the packet pick up - I was instantly scared. And starting to think about whether I'd want my wetsuit or not. I'm not gonna lie - i was starting to doubt myself. But it was super hot and there wasn't time to dwell. Because I had a party to host!!
At 4pm, we had a reservation at the Old Spaghetti Factory for our pre-race grub! I had invited a ton of people to join us: Bryce, Corey, Shannon (from ATL), Shannon Wagner and hubby, Tina Smith, Crystal, and our friend and neighbor (and about to be business partner) Phoebe. Phoebe had three extra people in tow. So this was gonna be all sorts of fun. I rechanneled my residence life back ground and we did an Icebreaker! WOO HOO! Just like my 40th birthday, I was amazed at how people came together and got to know each other. The Atlanta Contingency got along famously with the Phoebe Contingency, and they even all went out together once Charles and I went to bed. My family was another story - they were late to the dinner and stayed on the outside of everything, but we did get an AMAZING family photo, courtesy of Annie's camera and Bryce's photo skills!
|I love me some Brycer!|
|And it's not a party without da Thunder!|
|We are so amazingly gorgeous!|
|Mayer's - REPRESENT!!|
|I'm set up and ready to go!!|
|Peace Out, Boys! I'm hitting the water soon!|
This race was a time-trial start, so a new swimmer would enter the water every three seconds. I got in line by race number and patiently waited my turn. Tried to make small talk with the folks ahead of and behind me, but I honestly just needed to get my head into the race. Jumping in the water, I felt good. The water was reasonably warm and the current was with me for the first hundred or so meters. And then I had to pee. So I did. LOL. Made it to the first buoy and made my turn, no problem. Telling myself that I do not need to look at my watch.
Made the turn and now I am headed INTO the current and towards the shoreline on the other side. It's tough, but I feel like I'm doing okay. Lots of people are passing me, but that doesn't bother me. Yet.
I get as close to the shoreline as I can and try to keep swimming strong. I'm not going to lie - this was hard and I got tired. Had to pee two more times. Other swimmers passed me. People were starting to run into me - slightly - and there was one guy who kept running into me, passing me, and then just treading water/stopping before starting up again. I wanted to kill him. I can just start to see the second orange buoy where I can make my right turn, but it seems SO far away. Just...keep...swimming. Don't look at your watch.
By the time I made it to the orange buoy, I was greeted by a volunteer in a kayak: "Come one, grab the boat, we are towing you in, no penalty." This was disheartening, because I really wanted to finish. But I was tired and frustrated, so I grabbed on. The volunteer was livid. "There have been more rescues today than in any other race! I don't know what those organizers were thinking, but I think y'all all deserve refunds!!" I was beside myself listening to her, but I also realized that there weren't any other swimmers behind me. AM I DEAD FUCKING LAST???? OH MY GOD!
Get out of the water - and i have NO legs! IT's sheer stubborness and strength of will that gets me to the transition area. I hear Bryce, Shannon, and Corey cheering. It's GREAT to see them and I can't even believe I'm smiling. They catch the moment on video - OH MY GOD!
Get to the transition area - there are hardly ANY bikes there! I see Crystal and she guides me to Lucille, my Sassy Trek Road Bike :) And Crystal says..."I was worried about you! It's been an hour!" I finally look at my watch. HOLY SHIT. That fucking swim took me 69 minutes. And there are hardly any bikes in the transition. Let's go, bitch, you got some miles to make up!!
Head out on the bike trail and just want to get used to cycling. Many, MANY people pass me on the first loop. At some point, I hear Charles yelling out to me, "LET'S GO KRIS!!" And I see him on the other side of Ellington Parkway, I'm pretty sure he's finishing his second loop! I keep trucking, just gotta get the first loop done. I'm starting to be aware that it's hot, trying to make sure I drink something every 15 minutes.
After the first loop, I am pretty much the only person left on the course. I trek the 7 miles up to the turnaround on my own. It's lonely, but it's quiet. Just me and my thoughts. NOT a great idea.
"I could just quit."
"What do I have to prove to anyone anyway?"
"it's too fucking hot."
"This course is ridiculous."
"I'm not gonna finish last - that would be so humiliating."
I get back to the tail end of the second loop, and I decide to pack it in, call it quits. I'm quite sure that Charles is already finished and I can have some water and an ice bath.
And then I see them....but I think I hear them before I see them. My sister Annie, her kids, my brother Mike and his kids, Crystal, and I can still hear Bryce/Shannon/Corey. Shannon Wagner has joined them, along with Phoebe and Chris.
HELL FUCKING NO I CAN'T QUIT!! Get rid of that helmet, get your race belt on, and let's get running!
Yeah, running on what legs? And OMG, it's really fucking hot at this point. I get out of transition and on to 2nd avenue and I run into my sister Jenny and her kids. They don't see me at first but I call out and they cheer!
Before I get to the bridge, I hear someone shouting, "THAT'S MY WIFE!" and I see Charles running towards me. He's finishing the race! He looks great! I get a high five and keep trucking on.
I don't want to walk at all, just keep running at the best pace possible. At some point, maybe a mile into the first loop, I run up to a woman who's walking. I barely jog past her. She says "god bless you, I can't believe anyone is still running. I'm trying to talk myself out of quitting." Her words hit a nerve in me, and I started walking with her. Glad to hear that I wasn't the only one who wanted to quit! We made friends right away and starting walking and chatting. Her name was Melinda, she was from Gallatin TN, and she used to be a heavy person as well. Her hubby has been a triathlete for a while and she was a runner, now the two are competing together. We walk/run/walk/run until we get to the first loop and turnaround, and now ALL my friends and siblings are totally cheering together. Charles even runs with us to the next water stop. I KNOW I'm gonna finish, but I'm still gonna be slow.
Second Loop is pretty much the first loop, except that when we get to the bottom of the last right turn and are headed to the bridge, Charles is there. He runs in with me and Melinda until we get close to the finish line. Then it's all me and Melinda. Not a full sprint, but thank goodness we still got some legs left! Thanks, once again, to Bryce for capturing this moment.
At the end of the video, you can see that I'm ready to break down. Charles gives me a big old hug and I just lose it. All I care about is that it's over and I can eat! I hug each and everyone one of my family members, what a complete blessing it was to have them all there. And I cry some more. But can't dick around too much because I learn that I have to pack up my gear and get out of transition. They want to open the streets up! Well, dang it already, Nashville people...don't you know what I just did????
We enjoy a very filling meal over at the Gerst Haus where I only eat a side dish of Warm German Potato Salad and some pretzels. I do have a cocktail, but I can't bear to eat the heavy meat right now. I can't wait for a shower and a nap!
While the rest of this vacation is so very filled with more amazing moments with friends and family, The main goal of this blog entry was the triathlon. And now I hope you can appreciate why it was definitely the hardest race I've ever done. But now it's done. And I'm happy. Enjoy the photos below so I can transition into the closing paragraph:
|At Jose's with Phobe, Jon, and Judy!|
|At the Song Suffragettes with Phoebe and Crystal|
|Fayetteville and the trip home - with one of my old RA's and local DJ Jon Williams|
|Big time lunch on Monday at Monell's with the ATL and Phoebe Teams!|
|Annie, David, and Kris take a selfie!|
In closing, now that this race is behind me, I have five months to work on things that are going to help me find My Best Self. Alot of that will hinge on the new business development that my hubby and I are starting up with our friend Phoebe. SILVER PEAK PERFORMANCE. A coaching and lifestyle company whose focus is on helping the HIV/AIDS community find health and wellness through physical activity and life coaching. We are in the early stages, but much of my blogging for the duration of the year is going to be based on food and nutrition experiments and practices that we can use in our new business. I'm going to experience Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Fruitarian, and Blood Type for 30 days and then write about it. It's almost a complete departure with what I started doing in January of this year - but when you realize that a plan or path isn't working, you need to amend the map.
Although, perhaps it WAS the journey in 2015 of wanting to Discover My Best Self that helped lead to the inception of Silver Peak Performance. Could be. Maybe not. But time will tell.
So - we're starting with Keto and I'm in Week 2. More to come!!